Friday, September 14, 2012

Blog 3, Katrina Cox, 9-14-12, 4:10pm, Ebola Outbreak/Vaccine

The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus over the past few months. The virus has killed 31 people and as a result, an epidemic has been officially declared because it poses a significant threat to neighboring major towns. In nearby Uganda, 16 people have died from a more deadly strain of the virus, but it is not believed that there is any connection between the two outbreaks. A World Health Organizations official has stated that, “the situation is very serious and not under control.” Ebola is believed to come from fruit bats and enters human and nonhuman hosts after contact with, or consumption of infected animals. It causes internal and external bleeding by attacking white blood cells and blood vessels. Ninety percent of those infected will die from the disease and there is no known treatment or cure. The US Centers for Disease Control categorizes the Ebola virus as a category A bio terrorism agent because it is so deadly.

Sadly, scientist may never find a cure for this terrible and devastating virus. The Pentagon has recently suspended funding for two companies who are working on the vaccine and have leading candidates for the vaccine. Most of the funding for the vaccine has come from the US Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health because they fear the virus could be used as a biological weapon. The funding has been delayed due to funding constraints and will cause a major delay in the development of a vaccine. Some have wondered why big pharmaceutical companies have not shown interest in finding the vaccine. It is believed that they are not interested because there is not a huge demand in the market for the vaccine. With a small market and the lethal and sporadic nature of the virus, a vaccine will not bring big profits for large pharmaceutical companies. But would that still be the case if the outbreak continues to spread or the virus is used as a biological weapon?  





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